Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
Audiobook review: The Grendel Affair
Author: Lisa Shearin
Narrator: Johanna Parker
Audio Speed: 1x
Series: SPI Files #1
Makenna Fraser is a newbie at SPI New York and the only seer in the U.S. Although she is human, she has the ability to see through all veils and illusions, allowing her to know a being’s true, hidden nature. With an unknown group of vicious monsters straight out of literature ready to slaughter the Time Square party-goers at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Mak and the entire SPI team are on a race against time to save Manhattan, and the entire world, from the start of a deadly war between humans and paranormals.
The Grendel Affair is an entertaining, humorous story, and the start to a promising new urban fantasy series. I discovered the SPI series while reading a prequel novella in the Night Shift Anthology. I liken the premise to the Men In Black movies, except with supernatural beings instead of aliens. Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) operates with the purpose of protecting both supers and humans from the preternatural beings who mean to do harm. In addition, they help keep supernatural beings hidden from the general human public. Now they face a deadly adversary who wants to expose the presence of all supernaturals and feels that humans should be put back in their place as cattle fodder for the more powerful beings.
I enjoyed the premise of the story, which held my attention with its high-octane plot. The author does a fabulous job of developing the world while keeping the story moving forward. Ms. Shearin weaves complexity and multiple layers into the storyline without creating confusion.
The story is told via first person POV of Mak, who injects sarcasm and humor into every scene. I like that she’s realistic and knows her limitations as a “mere human.” Yet, she has an underlying strength of character that caused this reader to cheer for her when she goes head-first into the most dangerous of situations. She’s not perfect, and watching her make mistakes allows the reader a chance to relate to and develop a connection with Mak.
My biggest complaint about the story is the amount of repetition throughout the tale. I am going to chalk it up to freshman story syndrome, hoping that now that the author has firmly established this new world, she won’t find the need to repeat its characteristics as often. In addition, Mak spends entirely too much time reflecting on situations, especially while in the midst of danger. I found that she probably could have been out of danger by the time she completed her snarky inner-monologue assessments of the circumstances around her.
Meanwhile, I delighted in the voice of narrator Johanna Parker. Her thick southern accent successfully portrays North Carolina native Makenna Fraser. The drawl feels like an old friend and is comforting even in the midst of chaos. I found that I enjoyed the accent more by keeping the listening speed at normal, rather than upping it to 1.25x like I do with so many titles. Meanwhile, I wasn’t quite as enamored with Ms. Parker’s performance of Mak’s partner, Ian. While it didn’t bother me, it didn’t scream “sexy alpha male” to me. However, I enjoyed pretty much all of the supporting characters and found her narration enjoyable.
Overall, I found The Grendel Affair to be an entertaining, action-filled story, holding promise of more to come.